Post by Rovergrant on Feb 27, 2019 19:02:13 GMT
Legend Alan Reid fears that the club risk stumbling into Lowland League obscurity like East Stirling if they fall down the League Two trap door.If the Coatbridge outfit don’t win against Berwick Rangers on Saturday it will all-but seal their fate at the bottom of League Two.With the must-win game at the forefront of fans minds, former defender Alan Reid admits he fears for the long-term future of the club if they were to lose the relegation play-off to the Highland or Lowland league winners.The right-back, who played over 400 games across 12 years for the club, points to the plight of East Stirling as a potential fate for the Cliftonhill men if they were to slip out of the SPFL pyramid. Back in 2016, the 61-year tenure of The Shire in the Scottish national league set-up was ended by play-off heartbreak against Edinburgh City. Since then, they have struggled to bother the top of the table.
“I do keep an eye on the Rovers’ results still - and it from a far it looks bleak,” the ex-Vers star told the Airdrie and Coatbridge Advertiser. “The results just aren’t coming.
“From what I’ve heard the performances have improved, but I know and the fans know that performances mean nothing if you can’t get the points on the board.
“You look at it and they are seven points adrift of Berwick, and it took them most of the season to even get seven points.
“I do hope they can get that first point to build on and really kick on.”
He continued: “You look at the teams that Rovers’ could face it’s not going to be an easy task.“Just now it looks like Cove Rangers or East Kilbride - those aren’t easy games.
“The players in both those teams will be coming and looking for a place in the pyramid system. There is a lot of ambitious teams outside of League Two waiting for a chance now.
“Rovers’ are now at a point where they need to go on a run soon and catch Berwick, or start putting everything into that play-off and start gearing up for it.
“It’s challenging to come back - just look at East Stirling.
“The first season they went down they had a go, but now they are stuck in the Lowland League. They are not challenging and there are more and more teams who want a chance in the SPFL.
“Hopefully Rovers turn it around before it comes to that.”
Reid conceded he hasn’t experienced anything like the pressure the current squad must be facing.
However, he points to the successful bid to stay in the Second Division as inspiration for the current crop.
In 2012, Rovers’ came back from two goals down to beat Stranraer on penalties and avoid the drop.
“It’s not exactly the same situation - but when we were under Paul Martin we managed to stay-up with a win against Stranraer,” said the veteran.
“It proves that you can do it even when you’re down the bottom.
“We were treating those play-off games like they were cup finals. We gave it everything and managed to stay in the Second Division.
“If it comes to a play-off hopefully the current group can repeat history.”
Reid lamented the huge overhaul of the squad and management at the club last summer - which saw a number of lower-league stalwarts exit Cliftonhill.
The 30-year-old ended his spell in Monklands last summer as part of the mass exodus, opting to stay in the third tier with Stenhousemuir.However, he believes that if they had splashed the cash to keep the core of the team on for another season they could be in the hunt for a promotion this term.Instead, the funding was slashed to balance the books for a campaign at a lower level and recruits were brought in from the junior ranks.
“We started last season and we were absolutely flying,” experienced Reid continued.
“We were sitting in second after seven games, and had faced teams like Raith and won.
“You start to think that you can do something here.
“Then we go on a bad run - similar to this season for Rovers - and you find that you just can’t get yourself out of it.“We ended up going down, but if you look at the squad we had, if Rovers had kept the core of that I don’t think there is any doubt they would have been challenging for the top four.
“At the end of the day though, it does come down to budget. If you can’t pay the bills you don’t have an Albion Rovers.
“You have to make the choice on whether to take the gamble on coming back up, and the decision was made. You are fighting a losing battle either way.
“Fish (Gary Fisher) stayed on but you lose Alan Trouten - who I think we all knew would get a new team - and the experience of guys like Graeme Holmes, Scott Higgins and Scotty McLaughlin. You can’t replace that easily.“It’s not meant as disrespect to these guys but a lot of them weren’t even playing at the top level of the juniors.
“Most of them aren’t even at Rovers now after January.
"That brings it’s own problems as you try to get a squad to gel halfway through a season, which it seems like they have had to deal with so far even though the performances are better. I hope the results turn for them - and soon.”